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Letter bomb at International Monetary Fund's Paris office injures female employee

© Christophe Archambault, AFP | Police secure the area near the Paris offices of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on March 16, 2017, after a letter bomb exploded on the premises

Video by James ANDRE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-03-16

A female employee of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suffered injuries to her face and arms on Thursday when a letter bomb addressed to the world lender's European representative blew up as she opened it, police said.

The secretary, whose hearing was affected, is receiving treatment, but her injuries are not life-threatening.

The letter was intended for the IMF's European representative, according to police. Jeffrey Franks, a 24-year veteran of the fund, has been director of the IMF's Europe office since March 2015, which is located in an upscale part of Paris.

The explosion was a homemade device, with police chief Michel Cadot describing it as  "like a big fire cracker".

Cadot said there had been some phone threats made in recent days, but it was not clear if these were linked to the incident at the IMF's offices.

President François Hollande called the parcel bomb an “attack” and said French authorities would do all they could to find those responsible for the incident.

IMF director Christine Lagarde, who is French, said in a statement that she was informed about the explosion while on a trip to Germany. "I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF's resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate," she said.

The secretary who opened the letter was injured by shrapnel in the face and hurt in the eardrum because of a "rather violent noise," the police chief said.

Police searched all four floors of the building, Cadot said. No one else was injured and only light damage was incurred.

Thursday's incident came a day after a package arrived at the German Finance Ministry containing low-grade explosives, like those used in firecrackers. In the German incident, mailroom employees quickly identified the package as suspicious and called in experts, who destroyed it with a controlled explosion.

France remains in a state of emergency after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks over the past two years.

Claim by 'Conspiracy of Fire'

Although no link has been established at this stage, on Thursday a Greek far-left group claimed the letter bomb attack at the finance ministry in Berlin.

The Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei group admitted responsibility in a statement posted on an anti-establishment website, but only mentioned Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble's office as a target.

German police said they had discovered the "explosive" package at Schaeuble's office on Wednesday, a day before he was due to host his new US counterpart Steven Mnuchin.

Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States, in 2010 sent letter bombs to foreign embassies in Greece and to three European leaders – then European Commission chairman Jose Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

A Greek police source said the claim was "most probably" authentic.

Germany and the IMF are blamed by many Greeks for imposing years of public sector cuts and reforms in exchange for bailout packages needed to prop up the recession-hit country.

Greece's interior ministry said authorities in both Greece and Germany were working together on the case.

A Greek police source said the package had a Greek stamp. The "sender" of the parcel was given as a deputy leader of the opposition New Democracy party – along with his real address.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-03-16

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